A Guide to Small Dog Enclosures + Training & Placement Tips

Be it a puppy or just a small breed the best way to keep a hyperactive dog safe is with an enclosure. What is also known as a play pen makes for a safe space for your dog to stay put when guests are around or when its behaviour becomes destructive. If your canine friend doesn’t like being in a crate then an outside dog enclosure is a better option since it provides more room and it doesn’t make fro a confined space. To make this experience enjoyable for your small dog you need to take into account the main features of a dog enclosure and help your dog feel comfortable with in a pen.

What to Look For

Size

Doesn’t meant that if you have a small dog the playpen needs to be small too. Remember small pet outdoor enclosures should be a safe area for your dog to play and not feel confined. The enclosure should be big enough to house the toys and litter box, these are usually about 0.74 m2 and go a little bit over 1 m2. If you want to get an exercise playpen keep in mind the dog’s growth.

small pet outdoor enclosure for two dogs

Portability

Who needs a portable outdoor enclosure? – You might think. If you want to bring your dog on various outdoor adventures like camping, it’s a good idea to consider the portability of a pen. Fabric playpens are the most suitable because they are easy to pack. When you want to set them up just pop them open and you have a safe space for your little canine friend.

Material

If your dog knows how to make a ruckus, metal small pet outdoor enclosures are going to be the best at withstanding it. But if your pet doesn’t cause much of an uproar then go with fabric outdoor dog enclosures made of nylon. These pens usually have a top mesh which makes them more breathable. But you should pay attention to the quality of the mesh so your dog doesn’t put a tear in it when it starts scratching.

Assembly

No matter the place or time, you want to have an outdoor pet enclosure that won’t require tools when it comes to the assembly process. Whilst the majority of manufacturers have made this extremely easy, there are still some that require you to screw some clips or hinges when setting up the playpen.

girl playing with her puppy

Training Tips

Introducing the Playpen

The pen shouldn’t be introduced as a trap or as punishment, instead the introductory process should be done in a calm and informal way. This means that you should put toys and blankets in the outside dog enclosure with the door open. This will make it easier for your dog to go in and out of it without feeling uncomfortable. Treat the pen like the rest of the furniture with your dog.

Meals

Dogs love food and the best way to make your dog feel comfortable in the pen is to put its meals inside it. This will build positive association and it will make your dog spend more time in the pen. If your pup doesn’t feel comfortable going in the first time you put its bowl in, start at the door and slowly put the bowl further in. This process takes time, so be patient. Once your dog is inside do not close the door.

Closing the Door

When your dog starts to reside in the pen without any concern try closing the door when its eating. The first couple of times you should open the door as soon as your dog stops eating. As you progress, leave the door closed for longer after every meal and add a couple of minutes more each time you do so. Of course, during this you should recognise when your dog is showing signs of discomfort but you shouldn’t open the door immediately after your dog stars whining or barking.

Don’t Give In

This last tip might sound a bit cruel but when your dog starts to whine or bark when inside the pen it is important that you don’t pay attention to its actions. This doesn’t apply in the previous situation. Do not take your dog out or speak to it when this is happening as it will encourage the behaviour. Whining and barking are common when you leave your pup alone for the first time.

little puppy barking while is in his playpen

Placement Tips

Trees

If you have any large trees with mature and thick limbs, avoid placing the outside dog enclosure under it. The limbs can fall off the enclosure and cause injury to your dog.

Sun

Although you should avoid large trees with mature limbs you shouldn’t avoid trees completely. Placing the enclosure under a shade will ensure that your dog doesn’t overheat  but also make sure you always have a bowl of fresh water in the enclosure.

Slopes

If you’ve gone for an exercise pen avoid placing it on a slope. If your whole yard is at a slope go for a modular enclosure as it provides better stability. Do not place the enclosure at the bottom of a slope as it will take longer to dry since it won’t get enough sunshine.

Barking

In case your dog doesn’t know how to stop barking avoid placing the outside pen near the edge of your yard. You don’t want your dog to annoy the neighbour, don’t you?

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